The year 2021 will probably go down in the history of astronauts as a turning point, also thanks to the massive start of space tourism – orbital, on Dragon and Soyuz, also semi-orbital, in the New Shepard capsule, or on the SpaceShipTwo space shuttle.
A record 19 people were in orbit for a short time this month, eight of whom were private citizens. Last time this year, Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa and his co-pilot Jozo Hirano returned aboard the Soyuz ship after spending 12 days on the International Space Station.
The year 2021 was very rich in events in the field of astronautics. Let’s just mention the Perseverance rover landing on Mars and a creative little plane flying through the atmosphere of Mars, the launch of the most powerful space telescope ever in December, the James Webb Space Telescope with its Ariane 5 launch vehicle, or a SpaceX orbital mission Inspiration 4 With four buffs on board.
If 2021 is the year of space tourism, then 2022 could be marked by the launch of new powerful carriers that will open the doors for flights to the Moon and later to Mars. Next year, NASA plans to launch a “lunar” SLS rocket, and SpaceX is preparing for an orbital flight of the Starship spacecraft with a super-heavy carrier.
After years of development, NASA is finally preparing to launch the Space Launch System (SLS) launch vehicle and Orion spacecraft, which are set to return astronauts to the Moon. The first mission, called Artemis I, is scheduled for March or April 2022 and will send Orion drones into lunar orbit.
If successful, Artemis II is scheduled to follow in May 2024, when Orion will fly around the Moon with astronauts on board. NASA hopes to get people to the lunar surface by 2025 — the original plan was for 2024. Its success also depends on SpaceX, introducing a modified Sheep spacecraft as a lunar lander.
SpaceX won a $3 billion contract from NASA for the project, which was a thorn in the side of failed competitor Blue Origin, which attempted to reverse the bid in court.
Elon Musk said that SpaceX may attempt an orbital spacecraft flight as early as 2022. In 2021, several flights aboard the spacecraft took place at an altitude of up to 10 km, many of which ended in an explosion after landing. However, the May flight was quite successful and the orbital test was originally scheduled for later this year.
Unlike the SLS, which throws its massive first stage into the ocean after launch, the Starship is designed to be completely reusable. After detaching from the Starship spacecraft, the Super Heavy Booster will return to the launch pad, where it will be picked up by a pair of robotic arms, which have been named “Mikazela“.
Before the astronauts land, NASA plans to send science missions to the Moon. These shall also be provided by external contractors hired by the Agency to assist in the study of Earth’s nearest neighbors and the preparation of manned missions.
company Intuitive machines The Houston-based company, which is focused on providing science experiments, should start in early 2022 and again during the year. The second mission to the south pole of the moon should be excavating the lunar regolith and searching for water ice. Another company that also plans to supply payloads to the lunar surface under a contract with NASA is Pittsburgh-based Astrobotics.
Private company Rocket Lab plans to launch a small satellite to the moon, which will be used to test the orbit of the future lunar orbital station Gateway. Rocket Lab also wants to pick up the first stage of the Electron rocket next year. But unlike SpaceX, which is returning the first stages of Falcon 9 rockets to launch sites on land, or (more often) to floating offshore platforms, Rocket Lab wants to capture the relatively small booster when landing on a parachute using a helicopter.
Several new missiles are expected to debut in 2022, including the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan, which the Pentagon will use to launch military satellites. The company’s Terran 1 missile should also be launched from Cape Canaveral in the coming months Relative space3D printing production.
In 2022, Boeing’s string of failures with the Starliner manned spacecraft may also end. In 2021, a postponed test flight of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (unmanned) was scheduled, but problems arose again. At the end of 2019, Starliner encountered software problems that forced Boeing to shorten the test flight without contacting the International Space Station. In the summer of 2021, the ship returned to the launch pad, but did not take off.
This time it was caused by hardware problems – 13 valves in the service module malfunctioned, forcing the spacecraft to return to the production facility. Boeing later announced that it would have to replace the entire service module and a test flight could take place in May 2022.
Competitive SpaceX, which has delivered two crews of astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon to the space station in 2021, will continue to transport astronauts in 2022. In addition, there should be at least one mission for Axiom Space. Private astronauts would fly there and spend a few days on the International Space Station for a $55 million ticket.
In 2022, a small space shuttle Dream Chaser from Sierra Space is also preparing for the International Space Station. He currently has a contract with NASA to deliver cargo and supplies to the space station, but he hopes to eventually fly the crew.
In 2022, “Subtropical Jokes” also plan to develop their “space” tourism business. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, which completed three flights to the edge of space in 2021, plans to make six or more sub-orbital flights in 2022. Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic hopes to complete its test campaign and also begin offering commercial services on the SpaceShipTwo sub-shuttle To drive a space tourist.
While these private companies plan flights of several minutes into a hyperbolic orbit with a peak of about 80-105 kilometers, scientists and engineers from NASA, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency will be busy with the James Webb Space Telescope at a much greater distance. As of December 25, the JWST telescope is heading to its destination at point L2 of the Sun-Earth system at a distance of about 1.5 million km from Earth.
The JWST telescope will open during a four-week journey, after which the mirror segments will be calibrated. Until then (if at all), scientists will face many difficult situations. You can monitor the current status of the JWST telescope at This page.
NASA says there are 344 potential “single-point defects.” If something goes wrong, unlike the Hubble Space Telescope, which is in low Earth orbit, there is no way to send repairmen. So, it doesn’t hurt to keep your fingers crossed for this awesome project. If successful, it will help us look at the history of the universe after its creation about 13 billion years ago.
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